Bush Adventure Therapy and Deep Listening

What do bush adventure therapy and deep listening have to do with me? Well, here’s my story…..

Last week I really struggled. Everything seemed heavy and I simply wasn’t motivated to do many of the tasks I usually do each day. I know exactly why this happened, and with hindsight it all makes sense. But honestly, I did not see it coming until it hit me.

The Power of a Fantastic Conference

I blame it all on the AABAT (Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc) conference that I’d been to the week before. After all the anxiety leading up to the conference and the pre-conference expedition, I never imagined having a more awe-inspiring experience surrounded by the friendliest, most welcoming, positive yet realistic people I’ve ever had the privilege of being with. After nearly a week spent camping, hiking, conferencing and in deep listening with the natural world around me, I found myself back at work surrounded by painted walls in the midst of the worst drought on record and isolated from my new-found tribe of bush adventure therapists.

Connection to Land, People and Myself

I sense that the lush and rugged terrain surrounding me while I was at the conference was also my protector and connector. Having heard some of the stories held by this land, I felt like I became part of it and part of the stories to be told in the future. Incredible things happen when we connect with nature and with each other. We come to know ourselves. We learn the art of deep listening, feeling and responding.

At the conference I learned bucketloads about the science of sensory awareness, the future for social work in bush adventure therapy, healing trauma, writing grant applications for projects, and the value of story-telling. I discovered the real-life stories where bush adventure therapy had made a difference in the lives of people including women following domestic violence, young people in the care and protection and justice systems, and people wanting to rediscover who they are and what life is all about.

With over 170 people at the conference, I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to meet and get to know everyone. But the real treasure for me was going on the pre-conference expedition when I spent a couple of days and nights with a beautiful group of adventurists as we challenged ourselves with plenty of uphills and downhills (READ: very-steep-scrambly-sliding-on-your-butt downhills), navigating the terrain the best we could, and giving each other a practical hand and oodles of encouragement. So by the time we rocked up to the conference venue ever so weary and dusty and sweaty, I never felt alone or isolated. I had the beginnings of my tribe. And with this sense of belonging and connection, my confidence and comfort grew.

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AABAT Pre-Conference Expedition August 2019
CREDIT: AABAT

Coming Home and The Aftermath

All these things I held gently in my heart as I made my way home after the conference, excited for all the wonderful projects across the globe that connect people to nature, and super-excited for the part that I hope to play in the future. Full of stories and inspiration, I joyfully shared the highlights with anyone I came across.

And then unexpectedly it hit me. With the realisation that I was back to the ‘same-old same-old’ I felt the slump growing bigger as I listed off all the things I ‘should’ be doing but wasn’t. My yearning to be outside was incredibly strong, but I ‘should’ go back in and answer those emails and phone messages. I wanted to scream out that it’s not fair it’s so dry here and so green somewhere else, but I thought I ‘should’ just get on with life and stop comparing. And I wanted to be surrounded by my comrades even though I ‘should’ be grateful that I get to work for myself.

Life Goes On – Struggles Included

Here I am at the start of another week, still spurred on by everything bush adventure, still struggling somewhat. And I think to myself “How human am I? How human is it to feel the struggle?” We all have struggles even when life is going well. And from the struggle, when we can step back and look at it with love and support, comes strength, inner knowing, and intentional action.

Bush Adventure Therapy and Deep Listening

That’s what I’m working on this week. Identifying my strengths and especially what I’ve come to discover over the past couple of weeks. Finding that place deep in my heart that knows what I need to do, and being able to trust it to guide my way forward. Deep listening with the land and all that it nurtures (even in drought), deep listening with my community. And deep listening with myself.

That’s what bush adventure therapy means for me – deep listening to land, others and self. Belonging. Connection. Trust.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

 

Calm on the outside, agitated on the inside

Calm on the outside, agitated on the inside. Does this sound like you? How is that for you? Is it working in your favour? Or is there something you’d like to change?

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Picture This

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The stunning landscape at The Grain Shed Retreat, Goomburra Valley (PHOTO CREDIT: Darling Downs Wellness Therapies)

I’d like to invite you to picture yourself relaxed and at ease sipping a cool drink as you gaze out at the rugged mountains and the ancient valleys that surround you. A gentle breeze reminds you of the changing seasons. Thinking towards your future, your confidence rises. Your calm demeanour is a reflection of genuinely feeling calm on the inside. You’ve gained clarity about your dreams and goals, and you’ve tapped into your inner strengths. In the company of like-minded women, you’ve acknowledged the challenges that have held you back. The time for change has come. You’re ready to do things differently, to make self-care a priority, to celebrate who you are, and to take actions that align with your values and purpose.

With a clear plan for working towards your personal goals, you know just what you need to do. You no longer waste your energy stressing over things you can’t change. As you focus more and more on those things you have control over, your circle of influence expands. As you become increasingly inspired by your dream, so too you inspire others around you. Despite the inevitable challenges, you stand grounded in confidence knowing that you’re never alone, that you have the inner and outer resources to maintain your momentum.

Does this sound like you? Or perhaps something you’d like to experience in life?

Inner self, outer appearances

No matter how you appear to others, you are the only one that truly knows your inner turmoil, struggles, challenges, and disappointments. You might go through the motions of being a high functioning worker, mother and partner, but inside you could be experiencing agitation or distress. Lost dreams, worries, a lack of fulfilment – these are just some of the experiences women often keep to themselves. Stewing away inside they create a hot bubbly mess that has us feeling bitter and helpless. But still, we push on. Not happy or content. But we keep on going.

What if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way?

It’s true ….. it doesn’t have to be this way. I know. I’ve been there. Several times. I’ve also walked alongside many women who’ve experienced something similar themselves. We all have a different story, different experiences, but there are also many common threads. By sharing these threads, we get to weave a new story. A more powerful story that builds us up, that empowers us, instead of depleting us.

Companionship, community and connection are key factors

Companionship and community are two of the keys to writing a new story. When we’re very isolated from others we have difficulty thriving. Looking back I can clearly see the turning points in my own life when I connected with the people who became my tribe. I’ve had a couple of very special relationships with other women who truly ‘got me’. They accepted me just as I was. They lifted me up and showed me there’s more to life than the narrow window I’d been looking through. They demonstrated assertiveness and values-based action. They were friends and mentors who have had a profound impact on how I saw myself.

In recent years I’ve also had the privilege of being part of a community of women who openly encourage, inspire, embrace, love and connect with each other in incredibly meaningful ways. This tribe of women reflects many of the values so important to me – independence, connection, innovation, peace, creativity, courage, companionship, community. They’ve taught me that I am enough. Just me. The way I am. No labels. No definitions. No limitations. And that’s given me the space to be even more than I ever thought I was or could be.

I’m still an introvert, I still love my time alone. But now it’s not lonely alone-time. I am deeply connected with others and I’m part of a tribe. We don’t desperately need to be with each other all the time. But the fact that we know we’re a stand for each other, that we’re part of a supportive community, makes each of us stronger and enables us to make a difference in our worlds – both inner and outer.

Women Empowered Retreats

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This is my philosophy behind the Women Empowered Retreats. I know the benefits of connecting women together in deep, rich, meaningful conversation. I know the power of sharing stories in safe spaces. The power of connection and community. The power of knowledge and information sharing. The difference that inspiration makes to our sense of happiness, contentment, and fulfilment. The feeling of being calm on the inside, not just looking calm on the outside.

Every woman is drawn to our retreats for different reasons and will have a different experience from anyone else. Each retreat explores a different theme that weaves together elements of personal growth. But at each retreat we come with an open mind. We seek to be informed, inspired and empowered to be ourselves. We offer a gentle balance of information sessions, reflective activities, mindfulness practices, creative arts, movement, nature, and soul-nourishing food.

Whether you are simply looking for time and space to recharge, or if you are looking for a deeper meaning in your life, you will be inspired and empowered to live the life you love.

An invitation to discover calm on the inside

If this sounds like a slice of heaven to you, then we’d love you to join us for any of our upcoming retreats. This could be the beginning of your journey to discover what it feels like to be calm on the inside, or perhaps it’s an opportunity to connect with a community who will inspire you as you take action towards your dreams. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the region, whether you come alone or with a friend, you’ll be joining a strong, growing community of women who know the value of self-care, personal growth, and connection with others.

Our upcoming “Women Empowered’ events include:

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Friday 26th July 2019 during the Jumpers and Jazz in July Festival

(PHOTO CREDIT: Darling Downs Wellness Therapies)
  • Hike Your Mountain (June 2019)
  • Yarn and Yoga in the Country (July 2019)
  • Women’s Health Retreat (September 2019)
  • Spring Retreat (October 2019)

To keep up to date with details as they are released, subscribe to my emails via my website and follow me on Facebook.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

The Three Best Things About Mountain Biking

The three best things about MTB. Hmmm ……. only 3? Okay, well ….. let’s see how this goes!

1. It gets you outdoors.
There’s a recognised association between wellness and outdoor activity. Simply being surrounded by nature is a step towards feeling more relaxed. With the sunshine stimulating our brains and enhancing our mood, there’s no better all-natural way to manage stress. Even just a few minutes outdoors is beneficial, so if you don’t have enough time for a long ride ….. have a short ride! With a bit of fresh air and sunshine, you’ll blow away the cobwebs in your mind and reconnect with those things that bring you joy.

2. It gets you moving.
Sedentary behaviour is considered a modern danger to our health with risks so serious that the problem has been compared to that of smoking. Physical activity refers to general movement throughout the day, so it has a broader meaning than ‘exercise’. Bike riding is a low impact activity and therefore a great choice for people of all ages and abilities. MTB in particular gets your whole body moving as you navigate rougher terrain. You can jump on your mountain bike to commute to and from work on paved surfaces, or hit the trails that are purpose built for recreational use. Cross country, downhill, enduro, freestyle, trials, or whatever is your preference ….. the main idea is to get your body moving.

3. It’s meditative
Formal or structured meditation practices are very helpful for developing skills of attention, concentration, relaxation and mood management. Some people find it very challenging to stay still enough to engage with this process. Whether you meditate in this way or not, you can still reap the benefits of mindfulness practices by fully bringing your attention and awareness to your bike riding. Visualise your attention as a narrow laser beam and focus on your actions and your surroundings using your senses – in particular notice what you see, hear, smell and feel. Notice the fluid movement of your body in response to the terrain, the smell of the pine trees, the breeze on your face, the physical features of the trail in front of you. When thoughts about work or other issues arise, simply refocus on your ride. Before you know it, you’ll have let go of some of those things you’ve been worrying about and given your brain a well-earned rest.

What are the 3 best things that you’ve discovered about mountain biking?

Empowering Women Through Retreat Days

Condamine Assist’s Kathryn Walton is adamant about the benefits of “Women Empowered”, a series of retreat-style workshops offered to women in small groups within their communities. Kathryn brings a unique blend of enthusiasm, compassion, knowledge and skills to offer women an experience of self-awareness, insight and hopefulness.

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The first Women Empowered Retreat Day was developed and facilitated in Warwick by Kathryn and her wonderful colleague Janine Hills in April 2012. The project grew from the community’s response to several extreme weather events which highlighted the benefits of individual and community resilience in managing and recovering from uncertainty and unpredictability. The retreat days were designed for small groups of women with the following objectives:

  • identify sources of inner strength
  • identify strategies to effectively assist with managing daily stresses of personal, family and community life
  • build personal and community resilience in the event of unexpected, unwanted and natural events
  • enhance a sense of well-being and connectedness among women
  • promote mental health as an integral part of the wellness of individuals, families and communities
  • develop skills and confidence in goal-setting and decision-making
  • support the development of cognitive skills which enhance mental health

Activities during the retreat included mindfulness-based practices and reflective activities interwoven with information and discussion sessions. Feedback highlighted that Women Empowered successfully informed and supported the participants in a genuinely caring, safe and warm atmosphere.

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Following the pilot project, a further series of Women Empowered Retreat Days was facilitated by Kathryn and Janine in 2014 for the communities of Warwick, Maryvale and Emu Vale. Participation and feedback from the women involved in the retreats once again reflected the beneficial nature of this style of program for women.

In early 2016 Kathryn offered a Women Empowered Retreat Day in Killarney with a focus on creative and expressive arts to explore the topic “Me, Myself and I”. The combination of reflective and creative activities in the tranquil surrounds enabled new insights into self care and role identity for participants.

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Responding to community feedback, further Women Empowered Retreat Days will be offered in the future with a focus on various aspects of life relevant to women in our society. The next Women Empowered event is “Living a Life With Meaning” to be held in Warwick on Thursday 15th September 2016.

To keep informed of Women Empowered Retreat Days and other events, sign up to our email newsletter list, or send Kathryn an email kwalton@condamineassist.com.au

 

INSPIRE Mentoring Programs for Women

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INSPIRE combines the warmth, reflection and connection of Condamine Assist’s much-loved retreat days with the essential elements of a skills training program to provide you with support and guidance as you journey towards your professional or personal goals.

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FREE start-up sessions are being offered for a limited time. Find out how INSPIRE Group and Individual Mentoring Programs for Women can guide and support you as you work towards change or growth in your work or personal life. Contact Kathryn (kwalton@condamineassist.com.au) to arrange a FREE 45 minute start-up session for yourself or a small group of friends. 

INSPIRE will commence in August 2016 with the launch of the foundation group “INSPIRE: Now has the power!”

INSPIRE: Now has the power! will:
• Bring clarity to your professional and personal goals
• Empower you to bring your goals into reality
• Create a safe space for you to explore your inner world of thought
• Support you as you develop a deeper awareness of the power of your own thought
• Challenge the mind habits that get in the way of achieving your goals
• Provide a stepping stone into your future by focusing on the power of ‘now’
• Engage with your inner inspiration and empowerment
• Connect you with other women who are stepping into their power of ‘now’

What format and structure does INSPIRE use?

When you participate in INSPIRE, you will have access to 4 x 90 minute face-to-face structured sessions with a small group of women held fortnightly in Warwick and facilitated by Kathryn Walton. A group using SKYPE may be offered in the near future as an alternative for women unable to access face-to-face sessions – please email Kathryn if this interests you! (kwalton@condamineassist.com.au)

You will be provided with inspiring and enlightening pre-session preparation material so that you get the most out of the face-to-face sessions.

Your post-session reflections and action-based tasks will bring your goals closer to your reality.

A private online discussion group will be available to you and other members of your group program so that you can keep the conversations and inspiration rolling along between sessions.

You will have access to individual online support with your facilitator, Kathryn Walton, for the duration of the program.

What investment do I need to make?

The time and energy you commit to INSPIRE: Now has the power! is in itself an empowering investment in yourself and your future. Your commitment includes 6 hours of face-to-face mentoring, pre-session preparation, post-session activities, and private group and individual online support over a 2 month period. And what an amazing investment that will be in your personal and work life as you literally begin living the reality of your goals! 

To celebrate the launch of INSPIRE, a special rate is being offered. Your financial commitment to this inaugural program is only $290. This is a unique opportunity to engage in an inspiring and empowering program that is valued at over $490. (And an added bonus is that you may be able to claim professional development points for work-related mentoring, as well as claim expenses against your income for tax purposes – check with your employer, association and / or tax accountant).

If you have a keen commitment to ongoing growth and development you may choose to follow up with the subsequent program INSPIRE: Into the future! which will take you further on your journey of exploration, resilience-building, sustainability and inspiration.

How does individual mentoring work?

Individual mentoring is available as an alternative to the group programs. Individual programs are uniquely tailored to meet your particular need. A regular commitment to face-to-face sessions, pre-session preparation, post-session activities and online interaction will maximise the benefits for you over a minimum period of 2 months.

How do I find out more, sign up for a free start-up session for myself or a small group of friends, or register my interest?

If any of the above information sparks your interest, send Kathryn an email kwalton@condamineassist.com.au or phone 07-46670171.

Remember that limited free start-up sessions are available to give you and / or a small group of your friends a taste of INSPIRE before making a full commitment. I’d love to hear from you. Please share this information among your friends and colleagues who may be interested in this opportunity.

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